100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

From Jerry Garcia and Joan Jett to B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stone critic chooses the best and most influential guitarists in rock

Load Previous
Carlos Santana
100
Winter/Getty15/100

15. Carlos Santana

The piercingly pure tone of Santana's guitar is among the most recognizable sounds in popular music. A towering musician who brought Latin rhythms and jazz improvisation to rock, Santana formed the first lineup of his namesake band in 1968. His varied influences — from Mike Bloomfield and Peter Green to Miles Davis and John Coltrane — resulted in a singularly innovative approach. A fiery, impassioned soloist, Santana articulates fluid passages that culminate in lengthy sustained notes. From Santana's career-breakthrough performance at Woodstock in 1969 to the 2000 Grammys — where he won eight awards for Supernatural, tying Michael Jackson's record — Santana has remained a compelling musician with a devotional spirituality fueling his muse.

Back to Top